While the Champions League’s narrow margin of error pressures him with a crucial game at Wanda Metropolitano, the Atlético de Madrid yet awaits “the pure talent” of Joao Félix, predictably back to eleven, at an almost constant crossroads and before a pending rematch against Salzburg, when he lost the final of the Champions youth in 2017.
480 days after the announcement of his signing, with that video in the Prado Museum in Madrid, after 42 official rojiblanco games, 32 as a starter, eight only complete and ten goals, and just one month after his sensational staging in this season against him PomegranateThe Portuguese attacker has not been as decisive in the game nor as incontestable in the definition as it was sensed when he arrived at the club.
It was half of Joao Félix. At Benfica he averaged 0.46 goals per game, when his fantastic irruption attracted the interest of all Europe by a boy of only 19 years old – next November 11 he will turn 21-. At Atlético, nothing more than 0.23, while moving under doubt, between an excessive amount of ups and downs.
It has not yet shown all the splendor that is assumed to his football, today it is not all the starter that was expected -or as it was at the beginning of his new adventure in Madrid- and the competition grows in attack, especially with Marcos Llorente, scorer and key player in the last triumph against him Betis (2-0), to the same extent that his status as undisputed in eleven declines.
Joao Félix has not been so much for a long time. There is no better proof than his double substitution in the last three official matches, interrupted by his disappointing first half against Bayern Munich, among those indicated in the first German goal, which revive when he was relegated to the bench last year against Leipzig, in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, or the Barcelona.
His ownership is expected this Tuesday, reunited with Salzburg, who on April 24, 2017 deprived Joao – then 17 years old – and Benfica from the youth ‘Champions’ in the final (1-2). One of the goals of the comeback marked him Patson Daka, The Austrian leader’s current goalscoring benchmark: 39 goals in his last 55 games. And in this season, twelve targets in ten matches.
In the absence of the afternoon training session, in addition to Joao Félix, either on the left or on the second wing, in the eleven of Simeone the attackers are also expected Luis Suarez, Marcos Llorente and Ángel Correa; to the media centers Koke Resurrection and Héctor Herrera or Lucas Torreira; defenders Kieran Trippier, Stefan Savic, Felipe Monteiro and Renan Lodi; and goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Saúl Ñíguez is a serious doubt and Diego Costa, Sime Vrsaljko and Yannick Carrasco, who was injured with a muscle injury in Saturday’s duel, are out.
Defeated in four of their last seven European matches, when they had only lost in three of the previous 25 matches, and undefeated in their last 16 home games, of which they won twelve – they have not lost at home since 0-1 on December 1, 2019 against Barcelona-, the party also proposes a crossroads for Atléticor, who assumes the significance of a duel that will show him in one way or another, never definitively, how much distance separates him from the only acceptable path for the rojiblanco team, the qualification to the round of 16, with the pressure that the last 4 represents -0 against Bayern.
Wednesday’s defeat against the European champion, perhaps received with too much conformism by Atlético himself, showed him a reality that was already given off by the powerful German attack: the first position will require a superlative level of the rojiblanco team, which for now is not so bad , although yes at least it must be second.
This is affected by the confrontation on Tuesday, crucial in that sense because it exposes him against another candidate for that position, Salzburg, who arrives with his players rested after the rotations introduced by American coach Jesse Marsch in Saturday’s game with Austria Vienna, which they beat 0-2.
The victory at home of the “red bulls” was the fifth in five league games and established the team as leader of the Bundesliga. The team, very young and with some notable footballers, has great confidence, although the little European experience of some players can be an advantage for his rival.
“Atlético are under some pressure after the first match and they will want to make us feel it. We have to continue to play bravely, do our football and act with confidence. That will give us the opportunity to play well against such a powerful teamMarsch stated.
The technician praised Luis Suarez, scorer four times in the six games he has already played with Atlético, and warned that he is the main danger for his defense. “Preparing for Suarez is very, very difficult. He moves so differently in the area and is incredibly smart,” he summed up.
Salzburg go to Madrid only with the injury of midfielder Antoine Bernede, so they can count on their regular starting players.
Among them the 20-year-old Hungarian international stands out Dominik Szoboszlai, who leads the offensive creation of his team alongside veteran Austrian international Zlatko Junuzovic. They are joined by two very fast and vertical forwards: Patson Daka and Sekou Koita. Salzburg’s main flaw – which tends to play offensive football – is a certain tactical disorder and defensive problems, such as retreating after losing the ball.
Atlético de Madrid: Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Felipe, Lodi; Correa, Herrera, Koke, Joao Félix; Marcos Llorente and Luis Suárez.
Salzburg: Cican Stankovic; Andreas Ulmer, André Ramalho, Maximilian Wöber, Albert Vallci; Dominik Szoboszlai, Zlatko Junuzovic, Enock Mwepu, Mohamed Camara; Patson Daka and Sekou Koita.
Referee: Ovidiu Hategan (Romania).
Stadium: Wanda Metropolitano.